19 June 1998

Sclerotinia research proves promising – CSL

ANEW test which assesses infection of oilseed rape flower petals faster than current methods will improve the accuracy of sclerotinia forecasting, says Judith Turner of CSL.

"The current warning system relies on a petal test which takes 10 days to give any results," she explains. "Unless it is done at very early flower, it is too late for subsequent spray applications to be effective."

Despite lower disease risks, the number of crops sprayed during flowering has risen dramatically in recent years.

Ms Turner says: "In the last 10 years only two serious outbreaks of sclerotinia stem rot have occurred. But growers have been spraying if there has been unsettled weather during flowering, because they are unwilling to take a risk."

She believes the new petal sampling test will remove much of the guesswork by identifying crops at risk in plenty of time.

Because disease development relies on rain at two crucial points in its life cycle, it is quite easy to forecast, Ms Turner says.

"Growers will be able to get results within a day from the new test." &#42

Judith Turner believes CSLs new test should take the guesswork out of sclerotinia disease control.